I have been watching several of my female friends go through the online dating process. Some of their dates have been so classically bad I am surprised they had the courage to do it again.
But the need to have someone in one's life can be strong, so invariably they get back up, dust themselves off and go back online once more.
After talking with several women about this phenomenon, we developed a few helpful steps for the newbie online dater.
Step number one is to put on your thickest possible skin. There are a lot of complete assholes online, and you will have to deal with them. If you don't know them personally, don't take anything that is said personally.
Don't say anything that you would not say in person. It amazes me what some people say in text, when they would never ever think to say that to someone’s face. Probably because they’d get a fist in theirs!
If you are seriously looking at dating online, it is important that you get a separate email address and use it just for dating. You can control when you have that email open, and what email you get. If you get ahold of someone who simply will not leave you alone, close that mailbox down and go merrily on your way.
You can do the same with a disposable phone as well. That way you have control over when the phone rings, when you answer and who you call on it.
Fill out your profile as completely as possible. Write about what you like, what you do not like, and what your deal breakers are, i.e smoking, hunting, etc. But try not to make a list a 1,000,000 miles long, as that will just make you look needy and uncompromising. If nothing else it gives you the ability to write back to the moron and say "Dear ignorant F#&k! You obviously didn't read my profile..."
Once you have your profile complete with pictures (see my article about online dating etiquette), immediately turn it off. All the dating websites give you the ability to hide your profile. If you are attractive and you do not hide it you can easily get 30 to 50 new emails per day. And while flattering at first, it gets very old very quickly. You end up spending all your time dealing with moronic emails and then don't have a chance to spend time communicating with someone you may actually click with.
With your profile hidden, you can still search men's profiles, reach out to them, and communicate only with the men you prefer. I think I have a pretty well written profile, yet as a man I only get a few emails per week. And most of those look like my Mom’s 80 year old friends, but that is a completely different story!
Once you’ve communicated with a few guys and decide to meet one of them, do it in a public place. You’d be amazed at how many normally rational women will go to the house of a stranger on the first date! NEVER give out your home address even if they say it is just so they can pick you up. Meet them somewhere public and always let someone know where you’re going, and whom you’re meeting. I typically call my friend 30 mins into her first dates to provide a bailout call and check in with her to make sure everything is going well. We have a code phrase “Yeah, the car was making that funny noise on the way over here again” which is a 911 call. Since she told me where she was going I can easily call for help should that be necessary. We really, really hope to never have to use it!
Check out my other dating articles on ‘Realism in the dating world’, ‘Online etiquette’, ‘A Pair and a Spare’, ‘The first Kiss’ and a few others. If you’re serious about online dating a little preparation will go a long way towards making it a positive experience.
With a bit of thought and some minor preparation, you can significantly increase your chances of finding someone online. And keep your sanity in the process!